Body (in evidence)
Commission by "blimey! Collective", Darlington, UK
Image and text investigating queer responses to Guido Reni's 1642 painting "Lucrectia" as part of printed publication "blimey! Lucrectia"
‘Art History, what even is it? What’s the point? Why bother?’
For me, the answer to these questions is: Human-ness. Looking at, enjoying, not enjoying, talking about and reinterpreting “old art” can tell us a lot about being human. Who we’ve been, who we are and who we might be in our imagined futures.
Just a little curious rummage around in art history can reveal un / undertold stories and help us forge connections to, and through, the past.
“blimey! Lucrecia” invites us to look at and think about Guido Reni s “Lucretia”, in a wide, wild variety of ways. For me, the focus quickly became “Consent”: how changing methods of communication (from the printing press to snap chat) have affected / continue to affect ideas of what it is and can be, legal consequences versus social consequences for those who act without gaining it, gendered ideas about “survivorhood”, and framing consent outside of a heteropatriarchal context.
Reni’s painting tells a deeply disturbing story about historical approaches to bodily autonomy. But it also illuminates how far we still have to come in creating useful, appropriate, gentle, radical models of consent today, in terms of sex, medicine and data. I’m interested in who our Lucretias are in 2020. Who feels pressure to “martyr” themselves in order to evidence to the lived, and legal, consequences of 21st century attitudes to consent.
So, “why bother?”. Because, projects like “blimey! Lucrecia”, are a vital source of much needed research into, and understanding of, contemporary life. Through them we can begin to ask, not just who we might be in the future, but how we might be that future. Kinder, more open, fair-er, more thoughtful? I hope so.